Will Smith, Hancock

Frank Masi/Sony Pictures

The reviews aren't great. The genre's iffy. Will Smith's the star.

As far as box-office business goes, everything should be fine.

Big things were expected, per usual, of Smith, and his less-than-usual latest, Hancock, opening Wednesday.

"I think it's going to be another Will Smith gigantic opening weekend," says box-office expert Paul Dergarabedian of Media by Numbers.

Dergarabedian predicted Hancock could make $75-$80 million from Friday-Sunday, and expected the film to clear $100 million, easy, over its first five days, from Wednesday-Sunday. An opening of that size would lift Hancock, the tale of an unconventional superhero, right into the airpspace of Iron Man.

Box Office Guru's Gitesh Pandya sees a slightly more modest opening weekend—maybe $65 million from Friday-Sunday. But he also sees an overall huge five-day gross—maybe as much as $110 million.

Like Dergarabedian, Pandya's betting on Smith, and not necessarily the movie, a superhero, action, comedy, drama hybrid that recently was compared to—oh, cruelest of putdowns!—The Last Action Hero by Variety.

"It's going to be a very big Will Smith opener because of star power and the action," Pandya wrote in an email.

As for the second weekend…

Suggested Pandya: "It should play out more like Men in Black II or Wild Wild West."

MiB II and Wild Wild West are two of the lesser-loved entries on Smith's Internet Movie Database page. But they're also two of the 11 films that Smith has helped push past the $100 million mark—MiB II grossed $190.4 million in 2002, per Box Office Mojo; Wild Wild West, mechanical spiders and all, came away with $113.8 million in 1999.

"Will Smith can open any movie," Dergarabedian says.

Smith's reputation says he's especially good at opening movies over the Fourth of July, which just so happens to be Friday.

Hancock will be Smith's fifth Independence Day-timed release. Of his others, each, with the exception of Wild Wild West, grossed at least $190 million—the heftiest, Independence Day, appropriately, weighed in at $306.2 million.

This Fourth of July, however, could be Smith's trickiest yet.

For one thing, the holiday falls on a Friday. Dergarabedian wonders if firework shows and other activities will keep audiences away from theaters on one of Hollywood's favorite date nights. (The original Men in Black, which costarred Smith and which also ran into a Friday Fourth of July back in 1997, made out okay—it ended up grossing $250.7 million.)

For another thing, Hancock is Smith's worst-reviewed Fourth of July movie on record at Rotten Tomatoes since, well, Wild Wild West. At one point today, the movie's Tomatometer reading stood at a chilly 32 percent, with 23 positive reviews outflanked by 50 "rotten" ones.

The Chicago Tribune called Hancock a "D-list project." The Los Angeles Times found it "bizarre and unsatisfying." The word "mishmash" was broken out by more than one critic.
Roger Ebert ("a lot of fun") and the New Yorker ("by far the most enjoyable big movie of the summer") helped represent the minority opinion.

In the end, none of it may matter. At least not for the next several days.

Says Dergarabedian: "A Will Smith movie on the Fourth of July is about as sure a bet as you can get…I think it's bulletproof this weekend."

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.